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Originally posted at www.gameswithtwo.com
You are on a camping trip and you hear something rustling in the bushes. What could it be? A squirrel? Some raccoons fighting over garbage left from the previous campers? No. It's something much much worse. It's Bears! You best get your guns, start running, or maybe you will sleep through it and never know the horror that you may have faced. This is the premise of Bears! brought to you by Fireside Games.
This is a 2-4 player dice game that takes about 20 minutes to play. In the game, there is a pool of dice that is rolled in the center of the playing area. These are white dice with either bears or camping tents on their faces. There are five dice per player in the game. After the pool is rolled, each player has five black dice that they will roll and then match up with dice from the pool. Players continue to match up their dice until the pool of dice contains only one face (either all camping tents or all bears). At this point, players yell, "BEARS!", and the round ends. Players are no longer able to grab dice and everyone scores the pairs that they have made. The black dice that each player has have three different faces: a rifle, a person running, and a person sleeping in a sleeping bag. If a player matches a rifle to a bear, they score one point. When you match the person running with a camping tent, you score two points. Finally, you can match a person sleeping in a sleeping bag with a camping tent: if there are only bears left in the pool, they score negative two points, but if there are only camping tents left they score five points for the match. If you make an illegal match or call out, "Bears!" at the wrong time, one point is deducted from your score. After each player scores their dice, you start over again. Play continues until a player scores 100 points. At that time, the game is over, and you can start a new round.
I was very impressed with the price and components of Bears! You get 40 custom dice with engraved faces and each face has a different color. They are a little smaller than standard dice, but not too small to be unmanageable or difficult to see what is on each face of the die. I also really liked the box. It's a rectangular box that doubles as a dice cup. Since you can be rolling 20 dice in a four player game, this is a great feature. The game is also expandable to eight players and 80 dice if you add another set (and you can keep adding sets to add more players). You can easily fit two or three sets into one box, and therefore still have the compactness of owning one copy. The price is right too at $20; you can't really beat that for 40 quality, custom dice. My only complaint is that I wish that the base game would support up to six players since I believe the game players better with more players.
We had a fun time playing this game with four players. Bears! isn't trying to be anything innovative or new. It doesn't try to be the next Ticket to Ride or Dominion. It's just a simple dice game. It's great to start or finish an evening with. We found the game to be just as advertised. It is fun from start to end. It's easy to learn and just about anyone can learn it in a couple of minutes. If you have ever played the game Spoons, it will remind you of that type of game where everyone is grabbing for an item in the middle of the table, but there just isn't enough to go around. Bears! has this feel, and it can be a really fun time.
Now, Bears! is by no means a perfect filler game, either. The game is not going to work well if you have a wide age range playing it. Kids are not going to be able to react as fast or reach as far for dice. If they are playing against others their age, it will work fine, but mom, dad, and the kids playing it, gives the adults a distinct advantage. I would have also liked to see some variants on the basic game play. This would have been very easy to do. You could have a team or partner variant; a variant that pits one person versus everyone else at the table; or maybe a handicap system that gives kids a couple second head start. Any of these would add an extra level to the game, and increase the re-playability at really no extra cost to the publisher.
As I said above, I believe this game plays better with more players, and I really don't think it plays well with two players. Part of the fun of this game is the chaos of a bunch of people all grabbing for dice at the same time. With only two players, you really don't get that feel. If you don't like chaos, it maybe one you want to play with only two, but I don't think this will be hitting the table in our house when it is only Mrs. Games with Two and myself.
That being said, this game has a place on our game shelf. It fits a niche that we did not have covered. We now have a light, filler, dice game to break out on game nights and even bring to grandma's house on Christmas. Bears! is a fun game that does what it's supposed to and did not disappoint. If you enjoy light dice games like Farkle or games that have that crazy factor, like Spoons, you may want to consider getting this one for your shelf as well.
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